A man I knew gave me this poem when I was about 22. It was in a card and he had typed out the words. I was so excited to get the card I snatched it out of his briefcase although he said he had not finished writing in it.
I didn’t care, I wanted to see it right away and so the card was never finished. He died in a helicopter explosion shortly afterwards. I kept that card for years and cried reading many times.
Through all my life turmoil the card was lost but I recently went searching the internet for the words I remembered and found it.
I don’t know who wrote the poem but I read it over and over through the years and it really helped me through some painful chapters of my life. Especially after his sudden death that occurred in such a tragic way. During our brief time of knowing one another he encouraged me to try harder and he told me I was smart. Only two people had ever said that to me in my life by that age so it meant a lot to me because they were smart so I was pretty excited that they thought I was too.
I am 49 now and I have read this poem more times than I can count; still I get something new with it each time I read it. It used to make me cry because it spoke to me that I would always be alone, but now it makes me smile because I made a happy life for myself even when I had nothing or no one. I learned to make myself happy all by myself, to be selective of my close friends, and be able to enjoy simple pleasures. One really important thing I learned is that not all men like smart girls and the ones that don’t are usually boys not men anyways. I hope these words help you as they have helped me.
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.